Introduction to Interpretive Videoanalysis of Social Situations

by Hubert Knoblauch (Author) René Tuma (Author) Bernt Schnettler (Author)
©2015 Others 150 Pages


This book provides an overview of the current state of video analysis, including the most recent developments in this rapidly growing field. It covers various methodological approaches. The authors address practical and technical questions and potential problems arising during the research process. The book also offers a perspective on the theoretical embedding of videography in the interpretive approaches to social research. It comes equipped with detailed, user-friendly aids, including suggestions for further reading, technical pointers, and case studies. The book will be particularly useful for social researchers interested in the collection and analysis of video data on natural interactions and in sociological ethnography.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Images and Boxes
  • Preface to the English Edition
  • 1 Introduction: Video Analyses in Interpretive Social Research
  • 2 Development and History of Visual Analyses
  • Precursors of Visual Analyses
  • Proxemics, Context Analysis, and Kinesics
  • Ethnographic Film
  • Video in Sociology
  • 3 Methodological Foundations: Specific Features and Types of Audiovisual Data
  • Data Types
  • Dimension: Research Situation
  • Dimension: Action with the Camera
  • Dimension: Post-Production
  • 4 Overview of Methodological Approaches and Fields of Video Analysis
  • Standardized vs. Interpretive Analysis
  • Videography vs. Video Product Analysis
  • Variants of Interpretive Video Analyses
  • 1 The Documentary Method
  • 2 Hermeneutic Video Analysis
  • 3 Video Analysis Methods That Draw on Conversation Analysis: “Workplace Studies”
  • 5 Videography
  • Focused Ethnography
  • Access to the Field
  • Recording, Ethnography, and Posing of Questions
  • Sampling, Logbook, and Research Process
  • Selection of Sequences for Detailed Analysis
  • 6 Video Interaction Analysis
  • Typical Understanding of the Data
  • Clarification of Contextual Knowledge
  • Principles of Sequential Analysis
  • Transcription and Analysis
  • 7 Options for Presentation of Findings
  • Ways of Presenting Videographic Analyses
  • Descriptions in Textual Form
  • Transcript Excerpts
  • Freeze Frames and Sketches
  • Embedding of Video Data in Publications
  • Audiovisual Publications
  • Conclusion
  • 8 End Results and Theoretical Connections
  • Interaction Research and Communication Research
  • Genre Analysis
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Video Hermeneutics
  • Sociology of Social Worlds: Milieu Studies and Social Movement Studies
  • Educational Institutions and Educational Research
  • Religion Studies, Ritual Analyses, and Memory Studies
  • Market Research, Consumer Research, and LifestyleResearch
  • Vernacular Video Analysis: Sports and Other Fields
  • Limits of Video Analysis
  • References
  • Subject Index
  • Name Index


Figure 1:“Natural” and “Artificial” Video Data

Figure 2:Dimensions of Data Types for Video Data

Figure 3:Two Forms of Video Research

Figure 4:“Conventional” and “Focused” Ethnography

Figure 5:Positioning the Camera for a Long Shot of the Room

Figure 6:Camera Positioning to Capture the Sales Interaction

Figure 7:Shots from Two Camera Angles

Figure 8:The Research Process

Figure 9:Prelude to a Sales Conversation in the Street Market

Figure 10:Sales Interaction Segment 1

Figure 11:Sales Interaction Segment 2

Figure 12:Sales Interaction Segment 3

Figure 13:Sales Interaction Segment 4

Figure 14:Sales Interaction Segment 5

Figure 15:Visual Transcript of the Approach

Figure 16:Extended Transcript

Figure 17:Example of a Score

Figure 18:Sketch from a Video Sequence

Figure 19:Levels of Genre Analyis


Infobox: Context Analysis

Research Example: Physics Instruction

Research Example: Line Control Centers in the London Underground

Infobox: Sequence and Sequentiality

Infobox: Research Ethics

Sample Cover Letter for Obtaining Informed Consent

Infobox: Camera Position and Sound

Infobox: Archiving, Data Manipulation, and Transcription

How Long Should the Sequential Segments Be?

Infobox: Data Sessions

Infobox Transcript and Translation

Excerpt from a Data Session for Detailed Analysis

Infobox: Visual Transcription

Infobox: Talks and Presentations

PowerPoint as a Communicative Genre

Preface to the English Edition

The title of this book, ‘Videography’, is short. What it develops and builds upon is only slightly longer. In comparison to the century-old tradition of analyzing texts, the interpretation of video data has a relatively brief history. This has to be kept in mind when analysing video data, for the methodical sophistication in video analysis is still at a preliminary level. Videography today is among the most recent of approaches in qualitative social research and its development as a method is far from perfect. Indeed, it raises a number of issues which still need to be solved. For example, the existence of adequate publication formats for presenting videographic study results is certainly one issue, yet this may not even be the most pressing one.

Dispite these drawbacks, over the past 25 years or so, video in qualitative research has substantially developed as a new and rapidly growing approach. Our own work is part of this stimulating field within the social sciences. For more than a decade, our efforts have been increasingly directed towards elaborating a set of practical guidelines for conducting qualitative studies in video data. These are based on extensive first hand experiences gained from a number of rather diverse projects that range from religious performances to powerpoint presentations, street markets to hospitals and service interaction to memory rituals (to name a few) within which we highlight that video may be a useful tool to illuminate important aspects.

Our work is firmly rooted in sociological theories following a path inaugurated by Weber and then paved – with some minor divergences – by Schutz, Berger and Luckmann, Goffman and Garfinkel, Soeffner and Knoblauch. As sociologists, we are particularly interested in studying the processes that lie at the heart of the social construction of reality, and we firmly share the belief that communication as interaction is key to understanding these processes. This is not a book of social theory, but readers interested in learning more about the theoretical background it builds upon might find it useful to consult other texts by one of the authors (Knoblauch 1995, 2011, 2013a, b).

Our work contributes to the ongoing use and significance of video in qualitative research in general, with a focus on Videography in particular. This book has been written to address the widespread interest in systematic, interpretive analysis of video-recordings that we have encountered throughout the social sciences. This interest is not limited to interaction ← 11 | 12 → studies in sociology, but extends to a number of cognate research areas, for example, in linguistics, education, psychology, organization studies, and beyond. The receptive attention and profound interest we have experienced in our seminars and lectures on Videography, and the subsequent demand for workshops and courses, at both our home universities and abroad, have encouraged us to write this book and to share the methodological expertise and skills we have acquired over the years. The descriptions of how one can metodologically deal with video data as explored in this book are not intended to serve as rules or guidelines. Rather, they can be understood as recommendations and orientations for those willing to study particular social phenomena empirically with video data. We expect the descriptions to be useful for those who are happy to learn from our skills and errors.

Individual chapters included in this book have been used in our workshops in Berlin, Bayreuth, Lucerne, Zurich, Madrid and Mexico, and we are grateful to all our students for their critical and insightful suggestions. Although this book can be useful as a self-sufficient source for independent learning, the primary purpose of the work is to act as a companion to the courses in Videography that we teach. These courses are offered on a regular basis in the Video Analysis Laboratory run at both the Technical University Berlin and the University of Bayreuth. As in any other qualitative method, the best way to learn is by doing, and as such this book is to be seen as a suitable crutch, but not a substitute for the indispensable, more immediate, practical instruction available in the courses mentioned.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (November)
Hermeneutik Ethnographie Ethnomethodologie
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 150 pp., 15 coloured fig., 2 b/w fig., 2 graphs

Biographical notes

Hubert Knoblauch (Author) René Tuma (Author) Bernt Schnettler (Author)

Hubert Knoblauch is Professor of Sociology at the Technical University Berlin. René Tuma is Researcher at the Technical University Berlin. Bernt Schnettler is Professor of Sociology at the University of Bayreuth (Germany).


Title: Videography
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152 pages